West Indies vs England: 3rd Test, Day One

A day of cricket that most of all resembled the outbreak of a Test match occurred in St Lucia today. It involved England grafting having been put into bat, and finishing the day in a half reasonable position.

It could certainly be argued that the hosts, having won the series, had lost a little intensity, for they didn’t bowl anything like as well as they had in either of the first two Tests, while the absence of the suspended captain may also have had an impact. Whatever it was, the direction and accuracy was a notch down on where it has been up to now, particularly as the day wore on and the frustration began to rise.

It was still good enough to account for the England top order, the perennial problems England have in losing early wickets much to the fore. The selection of Keaton Jennings was bizarre in the first place, and he should have been given out once and was also dropped before eventually being put out of his misery by Holder’s replacement Keemo Paul.

It is hard not to feel anything other than sympathy for Jennings’ predicament. He’s hopelessly out of form, has significant technical flaws in his game, and was on a hiding to nothing being called into this one. It is not in any way surprising he failed, his head cannot be in a good cricketing place right now. Quite what those responsible expected to have dramatically changed is unknown, for this was trying the same thing again and expecting a different result. That’s known as the definition of something or other.

Rory Burns managed to play around a straight one, as did Joe Denly, while an out of sorts Root had an ugly old waft outside off stump. There is a lot of talk about his form, but it is only this winter that he was scoring centuries and being praised for showing signs of overcoming his conversion “problem”. Root is a fine player, and of all of the problems the England batting line up might have, he is the least of them, whatever the low return from this tour might be, and however out of touch he might be at present. He is the one genuinely class batsman in the team.

After that it was the Buttler and Stokes show. Both had a little luck, certainly, but Stokes probably has the purest technique of any of the England players, and has shown before he has the mental aptitude for a rearguard action. He was hardly slow of course, but he wasn’t over-aggressive, and he looked the most comfortable at the crease of any England batsman this series.

His dismissal off a no ball, leaving the field of play, left all but a remarkably smug few non-plussed, the law having changed to allow a batsman to be recalled at any point up to the next delivery to be bowled. Was I aware? Nope. First time I’ve seen that.

Although there was a little rain before lunch, the over rate was once again abysmal, in fact marginally worse than at Antigua. It may be that another West Indies captain is going to be on the sidelines for the start of the ODI series. If nothing else, it quite pointedly thumbed a nose at the ICC, but if there was sympathy in some quarters for Jason Holder, there’s likely to be far less for Brathwaite this time around given a second team offence.

By the end of play the West Indies were looking a little weary, and a four wicket return having put England into bat represents far less than they would ever have hoped or anticipated. This was without doubt England’s best day of the series. Far too late, but a decent one in the end even so.

Even when losing early wickets, England had shown a much greater level of discipline in their approach, and perhaps something can be taken from that for the Ashes, though given how far away that is, the chances are a belated learned lesson here will have no effect. But what it did do was lay at least some kind of platform for the middle order, and that was a first this series.

For tomorrow, this could still go two ways. The pitch is certainly more even than at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, and there is no reason why 300 shouldn’t be considered par. England still have a way to go to get to that, and with their propensity for spectacular collapses, it shouldn’t be assumed this is certain to be reached.

Nevertheless, at long last England have been competitive. In itself, that represents a minor victory. As long as it is considered that and no more, they can be relatively content with their efforts.

But tomorrow? Well tomorrow is another day.

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22 thoughts on “West Indies vs England: 3rd Test, Day One

  1. Mark Feb 9, 2019 / 10:30 pm

    To paraphrase Basil Faulty….”Don’t mention dead rubbers, I mentioned them once, but I think I got away with it.”

    The pitch was very dead, Not sure why the WI produced this after the first two test matches. Perhaps they fancy the draw, although the fact they put England in they must have thought there was more in it.

    Like

    • Mark Feb 9, 2019 / 10:38 pm

      Bobs on a roll about Jennings. Highly amusing. Just called Jennings Buster Keaton. (One for the teenangers)

      Like

  2. quebecer Feb 10, 2019 / 1:43 am

    That really was a hekuva leave by Buster early on (here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWNFmn8sNM4 at 48 seconds in).

    To paraphrase Baldrick, no harm done, as by an incredible coincidence, his penis got in the way.

    Like

    • quebecer Feb 10, 2019 / 1:45 am

      (Darren Ganga had a bit of a commentary gem in describing it)

      Like

  3. thebogfather Feb 10, 2019 / 11:48 am

    As an aside… specialist coaches – I see Saker has ‘left’ his post as Aussie bowling coach – has Selfie provided us with any insight into this or is he still sat in a lonely corner of a bar/coffee shop somewhere?
    Also, can someone tell me how Ramprakash is still in a job, let alone any reason been given for his substantial contract extension at the end of last summer?

    Like

    • thebogfather Feb 10, 2019 / 3:48 pm

      I refer my learned friends to my comment above. Ramps is coaching this lot to make his own test average look good – he must go

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus Feb 10, 2019 / 3:59 pm

        I think it’s too easy to blame the batting coach, but then I was down on ForFux Saker so I am being a hypocrite.

        It’s more a case of the tactics from the top to me. I’m not sure there is a scooby among them, given how we’ve misread conditions and suddenly thrown plans out of the window. But it really is down to the players, after all.

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        • Benny Feb 10, 2019 / 4:31 pm

          It’s a curious thing. Unusual to hear of any coach anywhere making much difference – apart from Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain.

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          • LordCanisLupus Feb 10, 2019 / 4:33 pm

            England swore by Troy Cooley back in the day.

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  4. thebogfather Feb 10, 2019 / 3:27 pm

    Ah, that’s more like it – a good ol’ 40-3 morning…

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    • dlpthomas Feb 10, 2019 / 3:37 pm

      This is crap. Still, Jimmy should bowl well in these conditions. Should…………

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        • dlpthomas Feb 10, 2019 / 5:50 pm

          Looks like that’s Broad’s plan. I can’t watch any more of this – off to bed.

          Like

  5. BobW Feb 10, 2019 / 3:51 pm

    So putting the plan of Bairstow back at keeper and batting down the order has worked out well then…

    Like

  6. Mark Feb 10, 2019 / 3:58 pm

    England probably have enough already. I’m not convinced about this pitch. I also think WI will miss their captain.

    So after my prediction, stand by for WI to bat for 150 overs.

    Like

  7. Benny Feb 10, 2019 / 4:39 pm

    I’m looking on the bright side today. The cricket in this series is very watchable, especially the Windies bowling. Important to bear in mind that it’s the number 5 test team v the number 8 and you’d hope to see the occasional cracking knock but shouldn’t expect too much. Is that “glass half full”?

    Like

  8. quebecer Feb 10, 2019 / 4:54 pm

    I certainly preferred yesterday’s collapse. Yesterday’s was a kind of where”s my pipe fetch my slippers the Antiques Roadsow is about to start kind of collapse. Today’s wa more fetch my crack pipe jack that car there’s looting to be done sort of thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. dArthez Feb 10, 2019 / 8:36 pm

    Raw pace. It will never catch on.

    Like

  10. Rooto Feb 10, 2019 / 8:48 pm

    Wow. Both teams on top of their games in the field today. Obviously yesterday’s batting was a pretty good performance. What a sport test cricket is, when you don’t even know how well they’re doing while you’re watching it!
    Looking forward to watching some highlights, and hopefully Gabriel will be steaming in for a few overs tonight.

    Like

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